Centralized-Sanctioning and Legitimate Authority in Public Goods Provision: Evidence from a 'Lab-in-The-Field' Experiment in Uganda
39 Pages Posted: 4 Mar 2011
This paper uses an innovative methodological framework, which combines "lab-in-the-field" experiments with observational data on 1,543 producers from 50 Ugandan farmer associations, to address the debate on the role sanctioning plays in fostering public goods provision. The experimental setup allows us to attest the positive impact of centralized-sanctioning institutions on cooperative behavior as well as to demonstrate that the size of this effect depends on the process by which these institutions are established: we show that elected leaders have greater legitimacy than randomly selected ones, elicit greater compliance, and lead to higher public goods provision. To assess the external validity of our findings, we relate our subjects’ behavior in the experiment to their level of cooperation in the farmer organization and show that farmers' deference to authority in the controlled setting predicts cooperative behavior in their natural environment, in which they face a similar social dilemma.
Keywords: Public Goods Experiment, Legitimacy, Centralized Sanctioning Authority, External Validity
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